Oxford is surely the definitive location in which to learn English. Home to Oxford University and the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s largest and most comprehensive English-language dictionary, Oxford has been a centre for academic and educational excellence for more than nine hundred years. Here’s why Oxford is still the world’s top destination for any student […]
Oxford is surely the definitive location in which to learn English.
Home to Oxford University and the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s largest and most comprehensive English-language dictionary, Oxford has been a centre for academic and educational excellence for more than nine hundred years. Here’s why Oxford is still the world’s top destination for any student wishing to improve their English language skills and why you should choose Oxford Royale Academy’s award-winning English courses in Oxford.
1. Stand on the shoulders of giants
Studying in the city of Oxford, you’re constantly reminded of the people who have been there before you, in the same colleges and the same libraries for hundreds upon hundreds of years. 10 of the UK’s 26 Poets Laureate studied at Oxford, and the list of notable writers, poets and dramatists who studied here would make for an article in its own right. A small selection includes WH Auden, Wendy Cope, Oscar Wilde, Iris Murdoch, TS Eliot and Philip Pullman: it is impossible not to be inspired by the rich and varied literary heritage of Oxford. Staying motivated to learn English is easy when you’re surrounded by reminders of the wonderful literature that becomes accessible to you upon learning it.
Of course, it isn’t just the pantheon of writers and poets who serve to inspire those who choose to learn English in Oxford: Oxford has produced some of the most notable, famous and influential people in just about any field, from politics to philosophy, from economics to science. And because Oxford is a diverse and welcoming city, many of its most famous alumni came from overseas and learned English as a foreign language themselves, such as Isaiah Berlin, who was instrumental in founding Wolfson College. Currently, one third of the students at Oxford University come from overseas, including two thirds of postgraduate students.
2. Learn English in Oxford University colleges
EFL students at Oxford Royale Academy have the particular privilege of the full Oxford University experience: here, you can live and learn in a college of the University of Oxford. From eating and sleeping to studying and socialising, ORA students get to live exactly like Oxford University undergraduates – and if that doesn’t appeal, we should note that living exactly like an Oxford University undergraduate is about the closest thing possible to attending a real-life version of Hogwarts.
Students taking an Oxford EFL course will get the chance to stay in Balliol, St Peter’s or Corpus Christi College (depending on age group). Founded in 1263, Balliol College (where students aged 16-18 study) is the alma mater of so many poets that its list of alumni feels like the suggested reading for a course on Victorian Literature, including Gerald Manley Hopkins, Algernon Charles Swinburne, Robert Southey and Matthew Arnold. St Peter’s College (the residence for students aged 13-15) was founded as recently as 1929, but on the site of two of the University’s 13th-century Inns – so fans of Oxford’s stunning ancient architecture will not be disappointed. Finally, ORA’s EFL courses for adult students take place in Corpus Christi College, a particularly fascinating and historic place in which to study English, as the college played a vital role in the production of the King James Bible, a text second only to the works of Shakespeare in its influence on how the English language is spoken today.
3. Top-quality EFL courses
At ORA, we make sure that our teaching staff is just as good as our location. All teachers on our EFL programmes are native English speakers and have at least a bachelor’s degree. All EFL teachers also have immaculate English-language teaching qualifications according to British Council standards, holding a CELTA, Trinity Cert TESOL or equivalent Level 5 TEFL qualification. Finally, they have a minimum of two years of EFL teaching experience. Not only that, but in 2013 over 70 per cent of our staff had studied, taught or worked at Oxford or Cambridge University. That means students don’t just get the benefit of their English-language expertise, but also their insider knowledge of Oxford and Cambridge University and the Oxbridge system: vital for any student considering studying at Oxbridge in future.
The teaching styles practised in Oxford and Cambridge permeate our courses. Oxford and Cambridge Universities are dedicated not to teaching students what to think, but how to think, and this is also reflected in the approach that Oxford Royale Academy takes. Our EFL courses are not about memorising and regurgitating material; instead, they involve the kind of real engagement with the language that allows our teachers to share their passion for the English language with their students and results in an understanding of language that lasts long after students have left the classroom.
4. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the English language
Grammar has always been a focus of education in Oxford; ORA courses cover all aspects of English language knowledge. Building on a solid foundation of grammatical knowledge, the courses address the fundamentals of any language: speaking, listening, reading and writing, but also focus on aids to communication like specialist vocabulary, pronunciation and colloquial English. With English established as the world’s lingua franca, particularly in business contexts, it’s important to be aware of how the language changes and adapts to different circumstances – from the Queen’s English to the huge variety of English patois spoken around the world.
The reasons for learning English are many and varied, including the basic English needed to communicate while on holiday and the difficult advanced English expected in academic papers: at ORA, we prepare our students for the range of eventualities in which they’ll speak English. The total linguistic immersion in the language also helps improve students’ confidence rapidly: conversations in English happen all over the summer school, not just in lessons, and effort is made to ensure that students don’t end up in groups where everyone has the same native language, so that speaking English is encouraged. Out and about in the city, students will find that the people of Oxford are patient and tolerant with English language learners, so there are plenty of opportunities to practise English in shops and on excursions to gain more experience of real-world use of the language too.
5. Teaching breadth and depth in the use of the English language
Students of EFL at Oxford Royale Academy get exposed to a wide variety of different uses of English, going far beyond the usual EFL focus on essays and presentations (though gaining a thorough grounding in those important areas as well). For instance, on our EFL course for students aged 13-15, students will learn how to use English in circumstances as varied as travel itineraries, sonnets and recipes. This kind of engagement with the language not only makes lessons more interesting, it also gives students better comprehension of how the language can be used, a breadth of focus that is hugely important for any student who wants to progress from rote learning to true understanding.
Getting to grips with language in use is a focus of EFL study at ORA, from courses with a vocational focus like Business English and Legal English for adults to fun activities like creative writing exercises in our courses for under-18s. Activities that build thorough grammatical understanding are frequently paired with entertaining tasks so that students are always aware of how their newfound knowledge can be of practical and enjoyable use to them.
6. EFL teachers who understand your needs
Our teachers are not only well-qualified in EFL, they also have academic backgrounds that make them highly suited to our students’ needs. In 2013, more than 70% of our teaching staff were educated at or had worked for Oxford or Cambridge universities – and the remaining 30% are no academic lightweights, coming from prestigious universities like Durham and UCL. Our staff can teach to an exceptionally high academic standard, and won’t be daunted by students interested in learning complex grammar or obscure technical vocabulary for their specific scholarly interests.
Our staff are on hand to help outside the classroom, too. We have a fantastic team of support staff to provide pastoral help and supervision, and are highly trained to make sure students get everything they need. They’re frequently university undergraduates themselves, and so provide yet another source and variety of English for our students to get a fully-rounded education.
7. Prepare for IELTS
Studying is often easier if you have a goal to aim for. Oxford Royale Academy offers IELTS preparation courses for students aged 16-18. IELTS is one of the best-respected and most widely accepted English language qualifications in the world, and it has many advantages. One important aspect of IELTS is that there is no fail grade; instead, candidates are given a score between 1 and 9 from non-user to expert user – so preparing for and taking the test is always rewarded. There’s also no restriction on retaking the test – that can be done as soon as you like and as often as you like, so it matters less if you happen to have a bad day. IELTS comes in two categories: academic and general, so you can tailor your preparation to the kind of English-language skills you’re likely to need in future.
If you’re thinking of moving to the UK as a non-EU citizen, IELTS is invaluable as it’s one of the accepted English language tests for UK immigration. It’s also accepted as proof of English language ability by the vast majority of universities that teach in English, including every university in the UK. Oxford University, for instance, requires a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 for non-native English speakers.
8. Gain skills for UK university admissions
Anyone is Oxford knows that one of the best reasons to study English is to gain access to English-language universities. Every single one of the world’s top ten universities (according to the QS World University Rankings) teaches in English, four of them located in the UK (the University of Cambridge, University College London, Imperial College London, and of course the University of Oxford). Where better to gain the skills you’ll need to attend an English-language university than in Oxford? Not only can ORA’s teachers prepare you in terms of your English-language abilities, they can also give advice on applications and provide insight into the way the British university system works, particularly Oxford and Cambridge.
Academic English follows particular styles and conventions, which can be surprisingly different from academic writing in other languages. Writing in an appropriate academic style is a vital skill to have under your belt before you attend an English-language university, and is particularly important if you have to submit written work as part of a university application. Appropriate English for academia is something that ORA teachers are well-equipped to teach; Oxford is traditionally the place where the definitive English acrolect is spoken.
9. Enjoy a wide range of exciting activities
English isn’t just learned inside the classroom, and the central location of Oxford allows for a wide range of fun activities for students to enjoy while practising their language skills. Oxford is only 50 miles from London, where students can explore the famous museums, such as the British Museum, which houses an astonishing permanent collection of some 8 million cultural art objects and antiquities. Oxford is also a similar distance from the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon, the historic birthplace of Shakespeare and home of the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as being well-located for a huge host of other places of significance and fun activities. For instance, Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of Winston Churchill, is only a few miles away in Woodstock.
All of this is vital in bringing English language learning out of the classroom and into practical, real-life situations – like watching a musical or just chatting with fellow students! A crucial factor in learning English is enjoying English and our activities and excursions, including nightly entertainment, a Saturday excursion and a great themed party, are there to ensure our students get to love using the English language every day that they’re in Oxford.
10. Learn English to enjoy the best career opportunities
Whether you’re 13 and just starting to think about future plans, or already well-established in a career, English can be essential for career progression. An EFL course equips you to communicate internationally, which is essential in an increasingly globalised world. We’ve already mentioned that speaking English gives you access to some of the world’s top universities; from those universities, your career can really take off. How long will it be until English is no longer just important to have on a CV, but mandatory for anyone planning on a high-flying career?
Learning English in Oxford with ORA is a great way to get that boost to your career prospects, with courses that boost your confidence and improve your communication skills. If you’re looking to do business in the UK or with British companies, our courses can also provide the cultural background that will give your interactions the personal touch, and helps strengthen your understanding of the language and how it has evolved. Furthermore, our teachers can provide you with the specific vocabulary you need for your current or future career, whether that’s in sales and marketing or in crucial business negotiations.
11. Fully accredited English courses
ORA is proud to have received a wide range of prestigious awards, as well as being fully accredited. These include the Queen’s Award for Enterprise from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2012, as well as Best Educational Product at the British Youth Travel Awards awarded by the British Educational Travel Association, which we have now won for the fourth time. Our list of accreditations is lengthy, but for our EFL courses in particular we are accredited by the British Council and by English UK. The British Council monitors and supports organisations teaching English as a foreign language, and ensures that the schools it accredits are providing English language education of the highest quality.
From these awards and accreditations (and more), it’s evident that Oxford Royale Academy is the leading provider of high-quality summer school programmes in Oxford. For a brilliant and educational summer in this wonderful city, ORA is the obvious choice.
12. Where else but Oxford?
Of course we love Oxford – but then, it’s hard not to. Oxford is a beautiful place to stay, particularly in the summer. Its architecture wows every visitor; it’s said that in Oxford you can see a building of every architectural style since the arrival of the Saxons, who built the church tower of St Michael at the North Gate in 1040, which you can still climb today – and which offers stunning views over the city. Oxford is also a very green city, with gorgeous parks and gardens only a short stroll from any of ORA’s centres. Then there’s the history and culture, evident in Oxford’s brilliant museums, such as the Ashmolean and the wonderful, labyrinthine Pitt Rivers. There’s always music and drama performances to be found and, anecdotally, even the buskers are better here. And that’s not to forget the influence of the University of Oxford. Even when the students aren’t in residence, Oxford hums with learning – by some measures, it has the best educated population of any city in the UK. If you want to learn English, it’s hard to think of anywhere better.
Oxford is a city that has been dedicated to education for centuries; it will undoubtedly continue to inspire students for centuries more. Why not have a look at our EFL course options – and study English with ORA in the best location in the world?